‘April in Paris, this is a feeling that no one can ever reprise …’ So the song goes. Many have waxed lyrical about Paris in the springtime. As Henry Miller once noted, ‘When spring comes to Paris, the humblest mortal alive must feel that he dwells in paradise.’ And it’s true: there’s nothing like Paris in the springtime, when this chic city of stone dresses up in a riot of pink and purple ruffles. What blooms when is not an exact science, as much depends on the mildness of the preceding winter, but here’s a general guide:
In Paris, magnolias tend to be the first spring flowers to rear their pretty purple and pink heads — this happens at the start of the season, usually in early March. They’re most prettily on display in the gardens of the Palais-Royal, where they’re often worked back to daffodils, those other happy, hopeful early bloomers. Just make sure you still have your winter layers on.
Paris goes all la vie en rose for a couple of glorious weeks in April. The cérisiers of the Champ de Mars and the Jardins du Trocadéro make for wonderful photographs that contrast the fluffiness of the pink flowers with the dark iron of the Eiffel Tower. One of the most exuberant blossom trees can be found at the Jardin des Plantes. But perhaps the most breathtaking are those that cluster just to the south of Notre-Dame.
While you’re at Jardin des Plantes, pop into the gardens of the nearby Grande Mosquée of Paris to see if the waterfall of wisteria has added lovely splashes of lilac to the green and blue tones of this tranquil place. One of the other most spectacular wisteria sights is at Au Vieux Paris on the Île de la Cité’s Rue Chanoinesse, when the flowers cascade fabulously down the quaint old restaurant’s façade.
By late April, the exuberant Judas Trees (or Cercis Siliquastrum) of the Tuileries are at their best, with their sprays of magenta-pink blossoms. You haven’t done Paris in Spring unless you take some time sitting on one of the famous green chairs, a takeaway chocolat chaud from Angelina in hand, admiring these beautiful trees, which the talented gardeners of the Tuileries pair wonderfully with rainbow-bright tulips.
Horse Chestnut Tree
These are also abloom by late April, and can be found all over Paris. The sweetest ones are in the Place Dauphine, where they cluster together in the triangular park, their pink flowers setting off the old red-brick-and-stone buildings, and shading the matches of pétanque that play out here.